Having a character quote from The Bible lets us know they're either a scholar, a deeply religious person or a bonafide supernatural being. Quoting a passage from the New Testament in the ending credits will make a character The Chosen One, and, from the Old Testament, God. (If used this way, it's likely to trigger any number of Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory interpretations.)
Of course, as it is with all fiction, this depends not on the device itself, but on the way it is used. A Bible quote can be an effective literary tool if used in a meaningful context. But, outside it, it's an obvious, major cop-out. It is also easily open to parody or subversion, as it has been observed before that even the devil could quote the bible to his own advantage by choosing his verses with care.note This happens in The Bible itself, even: see Luke 4:9-10.
Compare Literary Allusion Title, which often serves a similar purpose. Contrast Useful Book, where a "good book" means something else entirely. See also Speaks in Shout-Outs.
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Anime and Manga
Neon Genesis Evangelion — Quotes and references abound, though many of them have some bearing on the plot, or at least deciphering some of the symbolism.
In a rather subtle subversion, despite being a self-proclaimed holy man and traveling preacher, Nicholas D. Wolfwood of Trigun doesn't quote the Bible once.
That would be because he's not actually a priest... well, not a Christian one, anyway. He's part of The Eye of Michael in the manga, and in the anime he was intended to be the next Chapel of the Church of the Gung-ho Guns, a Knives cult before he ended up choosing Vash over his former boss. He fakes the traveling Christian holy man deal for reasons like cover (neither of his actual "faiths" would be welcome if he started preaching about them) and cash.
Patlabor makes extensive use of this in the first movie (possibly in an attempt to distance itself from the more comic OVA series), using the quote: "And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. Therefore is the name of it called Babel... — Genesis 11
The first two movies use biblical quotes to set the plot, the reason is Mamoru Oshii directed both of them. The man loves his quotes (usually biblical, but not always).
The infamous hentaiBible Black. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death. He who sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed." — Exodus 22:18-20
Subverted in Death Note: After the Bait-and-Switch Credits that make it look like Light's going to do something very noble, the very first we see of him in the first episode is him quoting the Shinto classics (with "kami" unusually translated as "god" in the singular). Factoring in Beauty Equals Goodness, he looks like a noble, pious, upstanding young man. By the end of that very episode, he's embarking on a mass murder spree of criminals as part of a plan to Take Over the World and rule as a god. The sheer speed with which he kills people surprises even the Shinigami who dropped the murder weapon in search of entertainment.
The English dub modifies the scene to have Light quoting the Bible. However, the class is implied to simply be an English class.
Surprisingly, for a story about a nun that hunts demons, the manga of Chrono Crusade completely averts this trope. However, Gonzo's anime adaption gleefully adds it back in, having both Joshua and Aion quote the Bible in an attempt to portray Aion as some sort of antichrist. Aion even quotes the Bible as his Famous Last Words.
Hellsing's Alexander Anderson quotes the Bible every other sentence. Since he's a thoroughly insane priest and monster hunter, it doesn't really mean anything.
Weiß Kreuz: Although Aya doesn't specifically quote the Bible, a point is made of the fact that he reads it regularly; the Radio Drama "Fight Fire With Fire" includes a scene in which he returns a Bible that he had borrowed from a church. The nun to whom he returns the Bible comments on its worn-out condition, and Aya explains that he reads it every night before going to sleep.
Ghost in the Shell is so full of quotes, that it's no surprise that more than a few are from the bible. In Innocence Batou and Togusa are doing it so much, that at one point Batou has to admit that it's getting out of hand.
Togusa: 'How great is the sum of thy thoughts. If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand.'
Batou: Psalms 139, Old Testament. The way you spout these spontaneous exotic references, I'd say your own external memory's pretty twisted.
Togusa: Look who's talking!
Togusa: 'His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced. Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks.'
Batou: Now you're quoting Milton, but we are not Satan.
Claes from Gunslinger Girl frequently shows off her wide-reading. Bad developments such as Henrietta's recent breakdown prompt her to quote Ecclesiastes 11:8-9 to Rico. She never names chapter and verse, she simply answers Rico's question "Is that poetry?" with "Not quite, it's biblical."
In Blue Exorcist: certain bible verses can banish certain demons. One character doesn't know a certain demon's specific verse, so he recites the entire Book of John at it. From memory.
One chapter of Dance in the Vampire Bund has Veratos quote the first half of John 3:16 to explain to another character how she became a vampire voluntarily by offering her blood to Mina's mother.
In the anime of Strawberry Marshmallow, native English girl tries to explain how she knows so much, especially about Japanese culture, with a quote from the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus: "He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled."
Watchmen — Would the Judge of All the Earth not do Right? (Doctor Manhattan = God).
Shortly after he is transformed, Dr. Manhattan is asked what he says to the people comparing him to God: he replies that he doesn't think there is a God, and if there is, it's certainly not him. He later ruminates over this, and (in a Genius Bonus reference to 'The Blind Watchmaker') wonders if a watch can occur without a watchmaker.
Used to terrible effect in Uncanny X-Men #423 and #424, as a nonsensical plot is unveiled to the religious Nightcrawler's constant quoting of Bible passages that Chuck Austen didn't bother reading beforehand.
Reading? He didn't even bother to get the citations right, and in one example, he made a quote up to fit the story.
Marvel books often have had Bible allusions. Particularly where The Vision is concerned, as in the episode titles "Where There Is No Vision..." and "Your Young Men Shall Slay Visions" .. a play on the original verse where it is "SEE visions".
An issue of Iron Man where he must fight the giant, alien dragon Fin Fang Foom which, at the same time, is battling the spirit of the young man whose body he co-opted: "Your young men shall slay dragons".
"The darkness and light are both alike... I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Chick Tracts use this all the time, usually ripped right out of context.
As a former student of theology, Gabe from The Maze Agency is able to pull out an appropriate bible quotation whenever he needs one.
Streets of Gotham had Abuse/Colin Wilkes musing on the story of Cain's fate after killing Abel and how he applies it to his crime fighting. It makes some sense, as he lives in an orphanage run by nuns.
In The Legend of Total Drama Island, the devoutly religious Ezekiel prepares for a dangerous cliff dive by reciting Psalms 23:4 to himself: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
Pulp Fiction — Jules Winfield is fond of (mis)quoting Ezekiel 25:17 (with a bit of his own embellishment, as only the final lines of Jules' speech, the ones about "great vengeance and furious anger," appear in the aforementioned passage) before executing someone. As he explains to another character later, he used to think it was just some "cold blooded shit" that one said to someone before "popping a cap in his ass", but he's begun to question his lifestyle after really thinking about its meaning.
Jules' speech is based on this speech by the legendary Sonny Chiba that opens the classic grindhouse action movie The Bodyguard (not to be confused with the Whitney Houston movie). It should go without saying that Tarantino was a big fan of these kinds of movies.
He spoofs this trope at the beginning of Kill Bill, in which he portentously presents the 'Old Klingon Proverb' "Revenge is a dish best served cold" at the beginning.
The Boondock Saints: And shepherds we shall be, for Thee my Lord, for Thee... ; which is not a actual Biblical prayer, but does fit the trope in that it sounds Biblical enough, and establishes the religious nature of the brothers, in case their huge crosses and tattoos hadn't tipped you off.
That prayer was explicitly a family prayer, they wouldn't even teach it to their best friend and accomplice.
The 6th Day — See example above — quote used to imply a religious aspect in a movie where it didn't really exist... although the anti-cloning law in that film is named after the Sixth Day.
The Matrix — Neo is Jesus. A few other references:
On the Nebuchadnezzar's dedication plate: Mark III, No. 11. Mark 3:11 (KJV) says, "And unclean spirits, when they saw [Jesus], fell down before him and cried, saying, ?Thou art the Son of God!"
In The Matrix Reloaded, Agent Smith's car license place is IS-5416. Isaiah 54:16 (KJV) says "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire and that bringeth forth an instrument for this work; and I have created the waster, to destroy."
Also in The Matrix Reloaded when the Nebuchadnezzar is destroyed, Morpheus says, "I dreamed a dream, and now that dream is gone from me." A quote from King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:3-5. What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?
Which is actually referencing two different religions simultaneously seeing as Morpheus' name is a reference to the Greek god of dreams
In Saving Private Ryan the Americansharpshooter was always quoting Psalms from the Bible (King James Version). It's particularly pointed during the opening scene where he quotes Psalm 22 ("Be thou not far from me, O Lord"). The sniper prays as he takes aim at a German gun emplacement. The shot then cuts to another soldier on the beach praying a rosary in Latin. It then cuts to a chaplain giving a dying soldier the last rites. During the final battle he quotes from Psalm 144 ("Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight").
Blazing Saddles. "As your spiritual leader, I implore you to pay heed to this good book and what it has to say!" Someone in the crowd blows a hole in the Bible. "Son, you're on your own!"
Ray: I remember Revelation 7:12 [sic, it's really Revelation 6:12, (KJV)]; "And I looked, as [the Lamb] opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became as black as sackcloth. And the moon became as blood."
Winston: And the seas boiled and the skies fell.
There's a Shirley Temple movie where Shirley takes advice from the Bible... by opening it to a random page and reading the first verse her finger points to.
This method of divination is called bibliomancy.note The name is derived from Greek biblio (books), not strictly from The Bible, and is practised with different books in different cultures.
Gettysburg: Lee's "teaches my fingers to fight" narration is from Psalm 144.
Some Fritz Lang films written by Thea von Harbou use this trope, the standouts being:
Destiny - "For love is as strong as death" (Song of Songs 8:6, KJV), which the nameless Mary Sue protagonist misquotes ("Love is stronger than death") repeatedly after reading it on a randomly opened Bible page.
Metropolis - Revelation 17:4 used to describe the machine woman, and a heavily distorted story of the Tower of Babel told as an example of a classic labor dispute. Plus all the other Biblical shout-outs present.
In The Mummy, Jonathan thoughtfully provides any necessary Bible quotes about the plagues of Egypt. In The Mummy Returns, he actually uses the phrase "as it says in the Good Book" only to discover Alex has a different book in mind.
Deep Blue Sea has a cook nicknamed Preacher for using this a lot. For example, when he locks himself into an oven while cornered by sharks he says "I'm not Daniel when he faced the lion!"
The film Giant Spider Invasion, as immortalized by Mystery Science Theater 3000, features a recurring preacher who, despite only getting a short scene in the beginning of the movie, continues to rant about demons from hell and the punishment of Man through the movie up until the credits. This is made even weirder by the fact that it's outright stated that the giant spiders are from another dimension, and that religion is shown in a more or less negative light throughout the film.
Doesn't seem that weird based on the description; just another example of the old trope of deluded priest who thinks everything is demonic instead of what it really is.
NORTON: I'm pleased to see you reading (the KJV Bible). Any favorite passages?
ANDY: Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh.
NORTON: Luke. Chapter 13, verse 35.* Actually, he probably means "Mark 13:35", when he confuses that with "Luke" by mistake. I've always liked that one. But I prefer: "I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
ANDY: John. Chapter 8, verse 12.
Andy's Bible is also a Chekhov's Gun for the main plot. "Salvation lies within."
In CSA The Confederate States Of America, slaves are given daily readings in order to encourage their compliance. Judging from the subject's reaction, it probably isn't very effective at making them loyal.
In Magnolia, the people in the audience at the gameshow hold up signs reading "Exodus 8:2 ("And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs"; KJV). Not only have 8 and 2 been recurring arc numbers, an actual plague of frogs then ensues.
Played (mostly) for laughs in Dragonheart by Brother Gilbert, while sniping from a tree w/ bow & arrow.
Brother Gilbert fires an arrow to set off a trap, lowering a log to clothesline two knights on horseback
Brother Gilbert: "Pride goeth before the fall."
He notices a child being chased by another mounted knight, and fires off another arrow, catching the knight squarely in the butt.
Brother Gilbert:(dryly) "Turn the other cheek, brother."
The Grail Tablet in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade borrows from John 4:14 (KJV). Indy reads it as, "He who drinks the water I shall give him, says the Lord, shall have a spring inside him welling up for eternal life."
Private Alvin York briefly debated the morality of fighting in World War I with his executive officer, Captain Danforth, by exchanging Bible quotes. The captain didn't convince York, but York later found the decisive quotation on his own.
In Hard Rain, Ray has a tendency to quote Bible verses. Jim even asks him for "inspiration" at one point. It leads to a rather amusing line later:
Ray: We'd go down to the river, and into the river we'd dive. (The others give him confused looks.) Springsteen, "The River". What? I'm all out of Bible verses.
Even Street Fighter gets in on the act with Raul Julia serving up the tasty ham. After M. Bison gets his supervillain power-up, he quotes (just slightly incorrectly) Luke 10:18 "For I beheld Satan, as he FELL FROM HEAVENNN ... LIKE LIIIIGHTNIIIIING!!!!"
Six: The Mark Unleashed has a prison with Christians in it that write Bible verses upon the walls to help Independents to make a decision to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
In The Crying Game, Jody finds out he's about to die and asks Fergus to tell him a story; the only thing Fergus can come up with is quoting 1 Corinthians 13:11 ("When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things").
In the docudrama Smallpox 2002 the only motive of the unknown terrorist who spreads the smallpox virus is a bible left open at Book of Ezekiel with 5:12 highlighted: "A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted."
In Thunderbolt And Lightfoot, John Doherty (Thunderbolt) recites Isaiah 11:6: "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid."
In Twilight, Stephenie Meyer uses a completely out-of-context Bible quote, while presumably attempting to equate Edward to "forbidden fruit"
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Thou shalt not eat of it: For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
"Forbidden fruit" being an Unusual Euphemism for sex is the most common interpretation of what it was.
Common but mistaken, biblically speaking - Adam 'knew' Eve in the preceding chapter, 'know' being a Hebrew euphemism for sex.
Another out-of-context Bible quote she uses is "And so the lion fell in love with the lamb", a paraphrase of a passage in Isaiah:
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them."
The Biblical passage is talking about the world peace that will be achieved when the messiah returns, while Meyer uses it to represent Edward and Bella's "forbidden love."
In the novel To Sail Beyond the Sunset by Robert A. Heinlein, Ira Johnson would quote the Bible to his religious wife at various times when she objected to his actions. It was indicated that he really didn't believe in it but found it quite useful to justify anything he wanted, as the Bible is so large you can find all kinds of stuff in there that you can take to mean whatever you want.
Sharpe villain Obadiah Hakeswill likes to end each of his threats with "It says so in the scriptures!" ...even when it's something like "Riflemen who lose their flints will get a good flogging, Sharpie, it says so in the Scriptures!"
In one of the prequels he runs into a devout Scots officer who becomes increasingly incensed at this, and eventually throws it back in his face by ordering him away from tormenting Sharpe with an actual scriptural quotation. Precisely none of Hakeswill's "says so in the scriptures" quotes are actually from the scriptures (even when he thinks they are), and when they (by some miracle) conform to contemporary Christian teaching it is only in the broadest general terms (God probably didn't have: "let an ugly creepy, sadistic, psychopath rape you" in mind when he asked woman to honor and obey their men, for instance, despite Hakeswill's attempt at scriptural justification).
Parodied in Bill Fitzurgh's Pest Control. Two cocaine-dealing druglords have an impenetrable compound. As an example of how impenetrable it is, the narrator relates an occasion where they let an assassin get into the courtyard, and just when he thinks he's hot stuff, riddle him with crossfire, then have dogs strip him to the bone. Brother A stands over his body.
Brother A: Pride, my young brother, goeth before a fall.
The narration notes that the second brother knew his Proverbs better.
Brother B: Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
What followed as they went back inside was a lengthy discussion on wisdom and paraphrasing.
Lu-Tze in the Discworld book Thief of Time frequently says things like "is it not written, it won't get better if you don't stop picking at it?"
Usually it IS written, but only in the select quotes of Mrs. Cosmopolite (proprietress of an Ankh-Morpork boarding house) which was assembled by Lu-Tze and the only copy of which resides in Lu-Tze's back pocket.
Sort of inverted in The Science Of Discworld III, in which Ridcully quotes The Origin Of Species to persuade Charles Darwin not to attribute Roundworld evolution to God's will in his book, but to simple natural forces instead.
The Ender’s Game sequels from Bean's perspective involve an elaborate reference of the Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge to explain why Bean has superhuman intelligence but a very short lifespan.
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21 or Luke 12:34) This one's on Kendra and Ariana Dumbledore's headstone, and sums up Albus' regret/repentance.
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (I Corinthians 15:26) This one's on James and Lily's headstone, and how it's interpreted gives insight to the difference between the good guys and the Death Eaters.
The Bible itself (4th chapter of Matthew and the books of the other apostles that cover the same events) lampshades this trope, when Satan tries to tempt Jesus into throwing himself from the highest point in the temple, quoting from the Psalms to suggest that God will prevent Jesus from falling to his death. Jesus shoots back with "you shall not tempt the LORD your God" from the book of Deuteronomy. Zing!
It's not just this one instance. The entirety of the New Testament is the Ur Example of this trope, having numerous quotations from the Old Testament.
Joseph, a crusty servant in Wuthering Heights, is constantly quoting the bible at other characters despite the fact that they are rarely guilty of what he is slinging at them. What's more, he is more vile than most of the characters, and still feels that he is destined for heaven while the rest of them are doomed to fry in hell. Oh, Joseph, not only were you completely intelligible, but you were a hypocrite too!
Played with in The Left Hand of God. Several characters quote or paraphrase the Bible in several places. However, owing to the ambiguous After the End future setting of the book, several details are conflated or confused. For example, people think that Jesus of Nazareth was the man trapped inside a whale, not Jonah. Justified by the fact that Christianity (as we know it now) doesn't exist anymore or has been adapted to suit the faith of the Redeemers.
Minor J.T. Edson character Deputy Marshal Solomon Wisdom 'Solly' Cole is fond of quoting Bible verses. Some of them are made up out of the whole cloth, with Solly relying on the fact that rebrobates he is lecturing will not have the biblical knowledge necessary to contradict him.
Reading Jane Eyre without either an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible or an edition with good footnotes means you miss a significant proportion of the characters' allusions and epigrams.
The clerical brawl between Friar Tuck and Prior Aymer in Ivanhoe is mostly conducted in bad Latin and Bible quotes.
Friar Tuck: Ossa ejus perfringam, I shall break your bones, as the Vulgate hath it. (Referring to the Vulgate Bible, the translation used by the Church in those days).
Characters in Manly Wade Wellman stories, being backwoods folk, have a tendency to quote "the Book". One of the most interesting cases is when a character in the Silver John story "Shiver in the Pines", asked where he's from, answers, "From going to and fro in the world, and from walking up and down in it". This is how Satan introduces himself in the book of Job, and his smiling at the stunned reaction of the other characters establishes what sort of person he is.
Played with in Joan Hess's Maggody mysteries, in which bungling preacher Brother Verber regularly misquotes the Bible. (He was ordained through a mail-order seminary.)
In The Da Vinci Code, Silas arrives at the fake location of the Keystone given to him by the seneschals and finds a tablet simply reading "Job 38:11". He realizes he's been had once he looks it up: "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.”
In Darkness at Noon, the porter Wassilij keeps a Bible hidden in a hole in his mattress until his daughter finds it and throws it away. He can still quote passages from it by heart.
In the Frederick Forsyth novel The Negotiator, the British Prime Minister tries to comfort the U.S. President, after his kidnapped son has been killed, by pointing him towards "2 Samuel 18:33" ("And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom! My son Absalom! Would God had I died for thee, O Absalom my son my son!").
Commissar Ciaphas Cain normally has a great deal of disdain for what he terms "Emperor-botherers," but he does have a some fondness for The Precepts of Saint Emelia. At one point in Duty Calls he gets a little grumpy when an inquisitor takes half a line out of context, namely "The path of duty is often a stony one." Amberley Vail's footnote explains that the full line is "The path of duty is often a stony one, but made easier by thought for others."
The Safehold series features many characters, both within the Church and out, quoting The Holy Writ, Safehold's equivalent to the Bible.
Bertie Wooster in P. G. Wodehouse's novels is prone to quoting the Bible, often reminding the reader that he won the prize for Scripture Knowledge at school.
"Ah, my sons," said John Enderby, "henceforth let us stick to the narrow path. What is it that the Good Book says: 'A straight line is that which lies evenly between its extreme points.'"
Honor Harrington: Flag in Exile has an early scene where a reactionary Grayson minister starts yelling at Honor for acting like a woman who didn't grow up in a basically male-dominant society, which she didn't. He starts quoting lines from The Book of the New Way, the second holiest Grayson scripture after the Bible, out of context at her. Having studied the Grayson scriptures in order to govern her Grayson fief better, Honor matches him line for line, including at one point supplying the second half of a verse Brother Marchant quote mined.
Spoofed on MADtv with Bible Dude, who would recite verses that had absolutely nothing to do with the situation, but people would arrive at An Aesop regardless.
Happens on The Walking Dead. Hershel quotes a passage to Merle and Merle not only finishes the quote but gives the reference numbers: "Woodbury had a good library, the only thing I miss".
Mr. Eko quotes the Bible frequently on LOST. At first this lets us know he's deeply religious. Then it provides irony because he's not really a priest, as he claims. Finally, one Bible quote becomes a plot point: the sun shines on his scripture stick illuminating the quote, "Lift up your eyes and look north. John 3:05." John Locke takes this as a sign to go north on heading 305, which takes him right to the Flame station.
Parodied in Garth Marenghis Darkplace, where a completely irrelevant Shakespeare quote appears on the screen for several seconds for no apparent reason.
Chuck Noblet in Strangers with Candy likes to read from the Bible before dinner with his family. We only see this once: when his friend (not his secret gay lover) is visiting, and the verse he picks at random happens to be Leviticus 20:13.
Rowan Atkinson's sketch wherein he, as the Devil, welcomes the audience to Hell. When asked where the bathrooms were in Hell, he said, "if you'd read your Bible you'd have seen that it was damnation WITHOUT relief."
The Firefly episode Our Mrs. Reynolds has a Played With example since it's not a real Bible quote. Also, Mal is an atheist, so she may be relying on him to not know that it isn't. Mal was once devout, but he lost faith after the Independents lost the Battle of Serenity Valley. As for the Bible quote, it's possible different settlements have their own "expanded" Bibles.
Safron: I do know my bible, sir. "On the night of their betrothal, the wife shall open to the man, as the furrow to the plough, and he shall work in her, in and again, 'till she bring him to his fall, and rest him then upon the sweat of her breast."
Mal: Whoa. Good bible.
Another possible explanation is that Saffron was flat-out lying, as is the nature of her profession, to seduce Mal.
Oddly enough, Shepherd Book, the ship's preacher, doesn't quote it much. He does allude to it in a rather amusing fashion while prepping for a rescue mission to save Mal.
Zoe: Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?
Book: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.
Dot Cottom on EastEnders frequently quoted Bible verses.
In one episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche tries repeatedly to quote the Bible to show others how serious she is, but she can't remember any actual verses, so she quotes the postal creed and the Marine Hymn instead.
Another episode has Blanche refer to her body as a temple, referring to taking care of herself...Okay, look up the original Biblical context (1 Corinthians 6: 15-20). Now think how far out of context the statement would have to be taken for BlancheDevereaux to quote it. Sophia does call her on it; right after she says it, Sophia snarks, "Yeah, open to everyone, day or night."
President Bartlett on The West Wing is a devout Catholic (as is his actor, Martin Sheen) and occasionally whips out his thorough and encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible as a walking Crowning Moment Of Awesome. For example, in one episode a Christian fundamentalist quotes the Bible, particularly laws-heavy Leviticus, to support her stance against homosexuality. Bartlett matches her quote for quote with yet more lines from Leviticus to show how outdated it is.
One episode of Fawlty Towers, "The Builders", featured an Irish builder named O'Reilly, who kept starting sentences with, "as the good book says," "as the good Lord says," and "if the good Lord had meant". Finally, sick of the builder's pious excuses for laziness, Fawlty responds in epic fashion:
O'Reilly: If the good Lord —
Fawlty: — is mentioned once more, I shall move you closer to him!
The Criminal Minds episode "Revelations" has an interesting play on the Book of Revelation, where Reid's kidnapper, Tobias Hankel, switches between three personalities—himself, his father, and an angel called Raphael. Although the Bible is quoted multiple times, Reid once quotes it incorrectly, alerting the team to his location, as they know he'd never mess it up because of his eidetic memory.
Reid also tried to use biblical quotes to dissuade some cult members from blowing themselves up as their leader'd instructed. The leader catches him at it, and belts him one when Reid tries to argue similarly with him.
The Bionic Woman: Jaime races against time (and enemy agents) to break into a super-secure bunker said to contain a superweapon capable of destroying the world. The room where the Doomsday Device is thought to be contains a plaque quoting Isaiah 2:4—"They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
"The First Commandment" took its title from the Bible, and had as its Villain of the Week an insane SGC officer who spouted lines from it, convinced he was a god. At the episode's end, Carter quotes the commandment in question verbatim:
"I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before me."
Seasons nine and ten introduce as the new Big Bad the Ori, a group of ascended beings who act as gods. Their minions love to spout lines from their Bible-equivalent, the Book of Origin, and often out of context. Daniel Jackson, who read it cover-to-cover to learn more about the Ori, loves to counter with yet more quotes from the same document.
In the fifth season of The Wire, Proposition Joe sends flowers to Butchie's funeral with a note quoting the first part of Isaiah 5:20 ("Woe to them who call evil good and good evil").
In Survivor Philippines, at one point Lisa Welchel (yes, that one) refers to the "do not throw pearls before swine" passage (Matthew 7:6) when discussing Abi-Maria. "Not that I'm calling Abi a pig, but..." She's referring to the idea that you're trying to help someone (giving "pearls") but they're openly dismissive and not listening ("swine" trampling the wisdom underfoot), you should quit wasting your time.
In the Highlander series, the second episode of the Four Horseman arc, is fittingly named Revelation 6:8, fitting because Methos was Death
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Parodied in an episode of Reba. Van goes through a crisis of faith after an injury derails his lifelong goal of being a pro-football player, and he says outright he no longer believes in God. This horrifies his very-conservative family, especially Barbara Jean. She brings the Bible to him, saying she found a passage that might help him.
Barbara Jean: If you look her at Matthew 12 Verse 3 "And Jesus says unto his disciples..." (Closes the book and starts beating him with it.) What is wrong with you boy?! Do you want to spend eternity in a fiery damnation?!
Vicar Oddie and the Undead Prophet from In The Flesh are both fond of quoting Bible verses to justify their fundamentalist views.
Oz. Vern Schillinger to Reverend Cloutier, when warning him not to interfere in the affairs of the Aryan Brotherhood.
"And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee. I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men. And skillful to destroy." Ezekiel 21:31
Warden Glynn as Smug Snake Timmy Kirk is hauled off to Death Row.
"He who comes in vanity, shall depart in darkness. And his name shall be covered in darkness. He will never see the sun." Ecclesiastes 6:4
Played with on Pramface when Mike, on a religious bent, gives us the following: "Thou shalt not feel up a godmother in the house of the Lord."
Subverted in Tom Russell's song "The Sky Above, the Mud Below" when Deacon Black, preacher-turned-corrupt-sheriff confronts a pair of horse thieves: "The Old Testament, it says somewhere eye for eye and hair for hair/Covet not thy neighbor's mare, I believe it's Revelations."
Not too many people realize the similarities between Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and Isaiah ch 21 verses 5-9 on how the city of Babylon had fallen. Given the song's anti-war theme, it's actually appropriate.
Cradle Of Filth’s Damnation And A Day features a bit of scripture – specifically, Genesis 1:2 and Revelation 12:7-9 – read by Dave McEwen in possibly the best version of the Bible-on-tape EVER. A disappointing number of reviewers thought the quotes were from Dante or Paradise Lost, though.
For a secular band, Nightwish loves this trope. "The Carpenter" is about Jesus, "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion" opens with a death-grunt of Exodus 10:28, "Crownless" contains Psalm 27:17 in one of its verses...
Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short...Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number; its number is Six hundred threescore and six.
One strip has Linus claiming that he has the right to choose what to watch on TV since he got there first, only for Lucy to change the channel and say, "In the 19th chapter of the book of Matthew it says, 'Many that are first will be last, and the last first.'* Matthew 19:30 (KJV)". Linus replies, "I'll bet Matthew didn't have an older sister!"
Other characters do it as well; for example, in one of the football gags, Charlie Brown cries out, "How long, O Lord?" Lucy recognizes the quote (it's from Isaiah 6:11), and continues and analyzes it, before pulling the football away.
In another strip, Snoopy comes in the house. Charlie Brown looks up from the Bible he'd been reading and asks, "What's up? Are you hungry?" Snoopy silently takes his Bible, turns to a page, and hands it back. Charlie Brown reads the indicated passage, Ps 50:12: "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee." He shouts to Snoopy (now presumably in the kitchen), "Give me a week, and I'll find an answer!"
Parodied at one point, in a moment used in one of the animated specials, when Lucy claims that the Bible says that brothers need to get their sisters Christmas gifts, to which Linus replies that that's not actually Biblical. Lucy goes to look it up and proclaims that she was able to find the word "sister" in the Bible - therefore, Linus has to get her a Christmas gift.
Lampshaded once, after Peppermint Patty throws out a kid tutoring her because she found out he was getting paid to do so:
Maynard: "The laborer is worthy of his hire." Luke 10:4.
Marcie: He's quoting Scripture, sir.
Peppermint Patty: Is that fair?
Of course, Schulz wasn't above deliberately taking a quote out of context for a gag. When Charlie Brown was feeling good from receiving a couple compliments, Linus dragged him back down with "Woe to you when all men speak well of you." from Luke 6.
Charles Schulz was a Sunday School teacher, and scriptural lessons are sprinkled throughout Peanuts, so much so that a man named Robert L. Short wrote a couple of bestselling "pop theology" books, The Gospel According to Peanuts (1965) and The Parables of Peanuts (1968), analyzing the strip's religious content.
In Modesty Blaise, Willie can find a line from the Book of Psalms to fit almost any situation, as he once spent a year in an Indian prison with nothing else to read. Willie is, however a subversion, since he is a Cockney former street kid and professional hard man.
In a Pearls Before Swine strip, while Rat is watching a football game, Pig claims that in every football game there is a guy named John who keeps forgetting his watch which forces a buddy of his to hold up a sign telling the time, hence why every game has a guy holding a sign reading "John 3:16" * For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV). Pig starts watching the game after Rat leaves and remarks "Great. Now Luke forgot his watch."
The same joke was inverted in a Get Fuzzy strip: Rob gets home and finds a spooked out Satchel sitting in the dark babbling "John 3:16! John 3:16!". He then turns on the lights and says "Your friend John called at 3:16".
Quoted and subverted in the movie version of The Bonfire of the Vanities. It's used in the bookends' narration as Bruce Willis' journalist ponders his newfound fortune coming at the expense of many reputations. At the end, he decides he's been well compensated for losing his soul.
A character in Piers Anthony's With a Tangled Skein misquotes it as "save the whole world", thus completely changing the nature of the point.
Intentionally inverted in "Starseed", the last volume of Spider Robinson's Stardance trilogy, with the quote, "What shall it cost a man if he shall lose the world only to gain his soul?" The Aesop in this case is, "Humanity must ultimately leave the Earth behind if we are to take our place among the stars."
Fiddler on the Roof employs this exact phrase with Tevye, even though we already know that he's deeply religious. There's no ulterior symbolism, other than to portray him as a religious, down-to-earth man living in a devout, tradition-bound culture. Mostly Played for Laughs, as he gets most of the quotes wrong and makes up some of them out of the air without realizing it:
Tevye: Of course, we don't eat like kings, but we don't starve, either. As the Good Book says, "When a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick." Mendel: Where does the Book say that? Tevye: Well, it doesn't exactly say that, but someplace it has something about a chicken.
Subverted when, speaking to God, he starts to say a quote... then realizes he doesn't really need to say anything, since God knows it all already.
In Gypsy. Mama Rose would often quote this trope before spouting an idiom with no Biblical subtext whatsoever.
Seen in 1776: When the Southern states have walked out of Congress over the slavery clause, Dickinson gloats at Adams and Chase (who has just arrived with the badly mistimed and insufficient good news that he's talked Maryland into supporting independence) with the deliberate misquote, "What shall a man be profited if he shall gain Mary-land, but lose the entire South?" He then smirks and adds, "Matthew, chapter 16, verse 26" before walking out himself. The meaning — that all of Adams' attempts to procure independence had just gone up in smoke and his winning over of Maryland was Pyrrhic — would haunt Dickinson the next day when it became clear he and he alone really opposed independence on principle thanks to a last-second compromise by Adams and South Carolina's Edward Rutledge.
In The Threepenny Opera, Macheath and Polly's dialogue before their "Love Song" is from Ruth 1:16 (Kurt Weill set this verse as a song, not in the Threepenny Opera but in The Eternal Road).
In The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), when the players are idly chatting about the weather, one of them quotes the apocryphal Bible verse, "Many are cold, few are frozen," from the Book of Galoshes in the New Testament.
Left 4 Dead 2: The Swamp Fever campaign has Ellis asking Coach if he has any words to say before they enter the swamp.
Coach: As I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil. Ellis: Okay. I was hopin' y'all wouldn't go all Fire and Brimstone on me.
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri quotes the Bible at various points, usually as part of the description of some new civilization-changing secret project. It quotes plenty of other literary works, too, including several written by characters in the game.
In particular, the game's opening cutscene begins with a quote from Genesis. The Universal Translator's quotation of the Bible comes across as very creepy, given the project's cutscene.
So do Civilization IV and V, for which the Bible is the single most common source of quotes, particularly for early-game techs.
Subverted in Assassin's Creed I: in one eavesdropping mission, one of the two men Altaïr's listening to claims that "God helps those who help themselves" is a Bible quote, thus justifying his unsavory activities. The other man promptly corrects him, saying it's from one of Aesop's Fables.
Interestingly, in spite of this early subversion, the ending of the game leaves out subtlety and just quotes Bible verses outright. During the scene with Altaïr looking at the holographic map of the Earth, a voice in the background directly quotes a verse from the book of Ecclesiastes. Additionally, once Deus Ex Machina graciously gives Desmond the ability to use his Assassin's vision just as he learns he will soon be executed, you can see quotes from various religious books and legends on the wall above his bed, including one from the book of Revelation.
Xenogears begins by quoting Revelation of John 22:13:
I am the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end the first and the last.
Fallout 3 uses the very similar Revelation 21:6 (KJV) — "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." It's the favorite quote of the protagonist's mother and "Waters of Life" forms the Arc Words of the game. It also provides the passcode needed for final moment Heroic Sacrifice.
Another, more subtle example from Fallout 3 can be seen with the birthdate of the main character (7/13/2258). Micah 7:13 reads, "And the earth will become desolate because of her inhabitants, on account of the fruit of their deeds." It aptly describes the Fallout series as a whole.
Likewise, Xenosaga, although it is generally more inclined to quote Nietzsche, does borrow a quotation from the Bible: "Ye shall be as gods". This gets a lot more ominous if you happen to recall just who said the original words!
Also present in Xenogears, as a message that is repeated endlessly, covering all computer screens on the opening cinematic.
In Episode 1, Albedo quotes John 12:24 - "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." - to describe his immortality and and the fear of living forever while his loved ones die.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night falls into this trope, albeit surprisingly tastefully (considering the rest of the game's dialogue), with Dracula quoting Matthew 16:26 upon his final defeat.
"For what profit is it to man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul?"
The final story mission is named "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed", which is from I Corinthians 15:26. The game leaves out the last two words of the verse: "...is death," alluding to the fact that John Marston is killed defending his family.
The last mission with Uncle is named "A Continual Feast", a reference to Proverbs 15:15 - "All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast."
The fourth episode of Ultimate Doom is entitled "Thy Flesh Consumed", which comes from Proverbs 5:11 (KJV). Every level title in that episode (Hell Beneath, Perfect Hatred, Sever The Wicked, Unruly Evil, They Will Repent, Against Thee Wickedly, And Hell Followed, and Unto The Cruel) come from the King James Version of the Bible, mostly completely and utterly out of context. But they sure do sound cool!
In Mass Effect 2, EDI quotes "My name is Legion, for we are many" when Shepard is trying to come up with a name for the captured Geth platform. Legion then comes up with the proper source: "Christian Bible, gospel of Mark, verse five."
Used for a moment of comic relief during a pitched airel battle in Halo 3: ODST:
Dutch: As The Good Book says, "Payback's a bitch!" Mickey: I don't think it actually says that, Dutch. Dutch: I'm paraphrasing, ya' heathen!
Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts features Mormon missionary, Badass Preacher and ex-legatus of Caesar's Legion, Joshua Graham (the Burned Man), who uses several aphorisms and occasional quotes from the Bible during the DLC. Especially his use of Psalm 137:1 + 7-9 to express his belief that one should Pay Evil unto Evil to the White Legs.
His unique sidearm has John 1:5 ("And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness [hath] comprehended it not"; KJV) engraved in the slide in Greek.
Ex-Belltower merc Michael Zelazny in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quite fond of quoting The Bible. When Jensen sarcastically asks if he decided to become a priest, he just says that he finds Scripture to be quite "evocative".
In the original, one of the Arkham Chronicles mentions Poison Ivy being brought in by someone. Amadeus Arkham quotes Exodus 22:18 in this one:
"I watched in silence as he brought in the woman. Her skin now a venomous green, the wanton creature no longer looked like a human being, much less a woman. The Bible says, 'Suffer not a witch to live,' yet he has once again delivered this female atrocity to our care. Once I have dealt with the monster, I think it will be time to see if green wood does, in fact, burn."
In Batman: Arkham Origins, during the Predator Challenge aboard the Final Offer, Alberto Falcone's bodyguard quotes Matthew 5:5 in saying, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" - insinuating that although the family is currently struggling with running their crime empire, they will arise as the victor in the ongoing turf wars. One of Penguin's goons, not familiar with the proverb, mishears the word "meek" as "weak" and instead thinks he's insulting him.
The online flash series Broken Saints uses religious symbolism and scripture extensively. (The Big Bad has incorporated much of the Book of Revelations into his "Last Judgment" scenario for humanity.) This isn't surprising since the series has been somewhat influenced by apocalyptic pop culture works like The Matrix and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Each of the three chapters in Yahtzee's1213 begins with a Bible quote, each from a verse labeled, what else, 12:13 (he admits in the commentary he just picked the ones he thought fit the situation, as not all of the 12:13 verses had any relevance).
In The Angry Video Game Nerd's episode "Bible Games 3", when the Nerd types out the word "ass" in the Game Boy's The King James Version, and the results got in a list of passages with the word "ass", the following passages he reads are:
"Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass..."* Genesis 44:13, which is about eleven of Jacob's sons tearing off their clothes and reloading their donkeys before returning to Egypt
"...loose his ox or his ass..."* Luke 13:15, which is about Jesus rebuking the synagogue officials for telling him not to heal on the sabbath day, saying to them, "Does not each one of you untie your ox or your ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?"
"...whose ass have I taken?"* 1 Samuel 12:3, about Samuel asking the Israelites whether he has committed any sins or not
"...deliver unto his neighbour an ass..."* Exodus 22:9 about a person handing an animal to another, and the animal dying or being stolen or maimed without anyone addressing the fact, although the next passage (22:10) has said giver swear an oath that he did not harm anyone else's property, and the owner may accept the oath
"Which of you shall have an ass..."* Luke 14:5, about Jesus asking the scribes and Pharisees if one among them would not help their ox or ass (although "ass" is replaced with the word "son" in most modern versions of the Bible) out of the cistern on the sabbath day
"...he had found a young ass..."* John 12:14, about Jesus finding an ass' colt and sitting upon it before riding in triumph to Jerusalem on what is now Palm Sunday
"...the dumb ass..."* 2 Peter 2:16, about St. Peter retelling the story about how Balaam got a rebuke for his crime via a mute donkey that spoke with a human voice and restraining his madness (although Balaam is not portrayed in a bad light in Numbers 22, which is soon to follow, and the words "dumb ass" are replaced by "mute beast" in modern versions of the Bible)
"...saddled his ass..."* Numbers 22:21, about the same Balaam riding off to Balak with the princes of Moab on God's command
"...opened his sack to give his ass..."* Genesis 42:27, about one of Jacob's sons opening a bag to feed his donkey when he is surprised to find money in the mouth of the bag
"...the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass..."* 1 Kings 13:28 about a prophet finding the servant of God lying dead on the road, with both the lion and the unharmed donkey standing next to his corpse
"...riding upon his ass..."* Numbers 22:22, about the angels of God standing on the road to Balak to make a sneak attack on Balaam as he was riding on his donkey (as mentioned before in the passage preceding it, 22:21), which the Lord possessed to make it talk to Balaam.
Homer tries to sneak out of the nuclear plant via secret escape route. He encounters a giant spider, and his map says that he can get rid of it by quoting a Bible verse. Pretty quickly, Homer gives up and just pegs it between the eyes with a rock, knocking it right out. Double subversion, as instead of quoting it, he enacts it.
In The Otto Show
Marge: Well, Homer, doesn't the Bible say, "Whatsoever you do unto even the least of my brothers, that you do unto me?"
Homer: Yes, but doesn't the Bible also say, "Thou shalt not take... moochers into thine... hut?"
Again in the episode "Homer the Heretic:"
Rev. Lovejoy: Homer, I'd like you to remember Matthew 7:26. "A foolish man who who built his house on sand."
Homer: And you remember... Matthew ... 21:17!
Rev. Lovejoy: "And he left them and went out of the city into Bethany and he lodged there?"
Homer: Yeah... Think about it!
Homer would use the Bible to "justify" male chauvinism, arguing against Marge working outside the home with "Thou shalt not...horn in on thy husband's...racket" and telling Lisa that the Bible commands girls to stick to "girls' sports" like hot-oil wrestling.
Reverend Lovejoy also used his "knowledge" of the Bible to defend the sadistic snake-beating "Whacking Day" holiday ("Whacketh all the serpents that crawl upon their bellies and thy town shall be a beacon unto others."), refusing to let Lisa check his bible for that, and to point out to Marge that, technically, the Bible forbids human beings to go to the bathroom.
In a Halloween episode, Lisa quotes "Judge, not lest ye be judged" for the town's Insane Troll Logic on determining if Marge is a witch. Wiggum just counters with "The Bible says a lot of things, shove her!"
In the Justice League episode "Epilogue", we find that Amanda Waller has turned to the bible for comfort in her twilight years...
Waller: Like the good book says, He moves in mysterious ways. His plan is a mystery. But here's what isn't: He gave us free will, we choose our own fate. For good, or ill.
In VeggieTales, Bob and Larry consult QWERTY the computer at the end of every episode to support the show's Aesop with a quote from the Good Book.
The grandma and occasionally Sol on 321Penguins
In the final episodes of Transformers: Beast Wars, both Optimus Primal and Megatron begin quoting from their scripture, the Covenant of Primus, believing the events that they're a part of are the fulfillment of its prophesies. Megatron also seems to be trying to position himself as an Antichrist figure in the process.
Beast: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels, unawares.
Professor X: Shakespeare?
Beast: The Bible.
Professor X: ...Ah, indeed.
Oppenheimer's quotation of the Bhagavad Gita on witnessing the world's first atomic explosion probably fits in here as well: 'I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds'.
A real-life example: What do you tell one billion television viewers who are about to see the image of the planet Earth for the first time in their lives — a tiny blue marble all alone in the night, framed only by desolate landscape that is the moon? "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth..."
It helped that it was Christmas Eve.
The first few chapters of Genesis are also being used in a modern-day Rosetta Stone project that provides the passages in all of the known languages on Earth.
But If Not — These are the words (taken from Daniel 3:18) that spurred the British to help evacuate a group of soldiers trapped at Dunkirk.
"God preserve the United States. We know the Race is not to the Swift nor the Battle to the Strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?" John Page to Thomas Jefferson, July 20, 1776, quoting from Ecclesiastes 9:11
Ernie Harwell, the late radio announcer for baseball's Detroit Tigers, would welcome listeners to the first spring training broadcast of each season with an apropos quotation from Song of Solomon 2:11-12: "For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
To all who think Dungeons & Dragons is witchcraft, let it be known that its creator, Gary Gygax, used Matthew 5:16 in his e-mail signature. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."